The 2007 Valparaiso men’s cross country squad, led by 21st year head coach Mike Straubel, returns seven of its top eight runners from a team that placed fourth, matching its best-ever finish, at the Mid-Con Championships in 2006. The Crusaders enter the Horizon League for the 2007 season looking to make an immediate impact on their new league.
Leading the Crusader returnees is junior Chris Honig. Honig, who transferred into Valpo from Indiana prior to last season, instantly stepped into the role of the Crusaders’ top runner, leading the Brown and Gold in each of its six meets last season. The junior placed third out of a field of 89 runners at the Evansville Invitational and followed with an 11th-place finish at the Mid-Con Championships, earning Second Team All-Conference honors.
Junior Leandro Schultz enters the season as Valpo’s second-best returning runner. Schultz finished seventh at the Evansville Invitational last year, lowering his career-best 8K time by over a minute in the event, and finished 14th at the Mid-Con Championships, also earning Second Team honors. Junior Jim Turchyn was Valpo’s #3 runner last year, posting three top-20 finishes on the year, including an eighth-place finish at the Evansville Invitational.
The Crusader squad carries just one senior, Michael Brouch. Brouch placed 14th at the Crusader Invitational last year and will look to lead this Valpo team during the 2007 campaign. Four juniors also return for a third season: Bryan Gill, Rich Krupar III, Jared Snell and Jordan Stanfill, all of whom lowered their personal-bests in the 8K by at least 20 seconds last year. Gill, Krupar and Stanfill also each placed in Valpo’s top-eight at last year’s Mid-Con Championships.
Sophomores Mike Bley, David Carter, Matt Cervarich and Chris Lechner each are back for their second year as a part of the Crusader team after gaining a year of experience as freshmen. Joining the 12 returnees are six newcomers. David Sandahl and Stefan Schalk will run for the first time in the 2007 season. Sandahl holds junior eligibility, while Schalk holds freshman eligibility after only running track last year. Chris Bednarczyk, Justin Bui, Keith Button and Joel Hartenberger all are incoming freshmen who will help strengthen the depth of the Crusader team.
Valparaiso’s schedule aims to have the Crusaders peaking for the Horizon League Championships. Valpo will host the league championship meet in its first season as a member of the league on October 27 at Sunset Hills Farm. The Crusaders will host the season-opening Crusader Open on September 7, and will compete at Boston College, Purdue, Notre Dame, Evansville and Indiana State throughout the season in preparation for the Horizon League Championships, NCAA Great Lakes Regional and the NCAA Cross Country Championships.